Darrell Blackwelder: Give amaryllis a rest and pecans some fertilizer
By Darrell Blackwelder
Cooperative Extension director
Winter weather last week has slowed many outdoor projects. Many people have questions about plant materials. Below are a few questions received over the past few days that may relate to your situation.
Question: I have an amaryllis bulb I have kept outdoors over the summer. It was very expensive and the leaves have grown very large over the summer. What do I have to do to make it re-bloom for Christmas?
Answer: Bring the plant bulb indoors and place in a dark location on its side for 6 to 8 weeks. The leaves will then wilt and die. With a sharp knife or pruners, carefully remove the leaves close to the bulb. The bulb should be stored in a cool, dry location such as a basement in an area that is cool, approximately 50-60 degrees. It is important not to water the bulb during this resting period. Repot the bulb with fresh potting soil. The bulb may be too large for the previous pot, so plant the bulb in a pot one size larger than the previous pot. All-purpose potting soils are an acceptable media. Place the bulb so that the top half is exposed. Keep the soil moist and place in a sunny, but cool location in the home, similar to locations for poinsettias. Ideal forcing temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees, avoiding drafts and forced-air heating vents.
Question: I have a pecan tree and it has not had any nuts over the past summer. What can I do to make the tree bare?
Answer: Fertilization is important because good growth and production are tied together. Mature trees often respond to applications of a complete fertilizer with zinc. Pecan fertilizers are often custom blended to contain zinc and other major and micro nutrients. These fertilizers are often found in garden shops and farm supply outlets and other retail outlets.
Even though fertilization is important, pecans face a multitude of problems, especially with disease and insect pressures in our area. Biennial bearing is also a problem as they often get into a pattern of heavy one year and light the next.
Question: I have Encore azaleas blooming now. I know that you need to prune most azalea cultivars in the spring after bloom, but what about Encore azaleas that bloom continuously into the fall?
Answer: Encore azaleas really shouldn’t need constant pruning. These are generally compact plants. However, if you do want to prune them, nurserymen suggest to do so immediately after they flower in the spring for maximum bud set.
If you prune them now you will remove that set for the spring cycle. Go to http://www.encoreazalea.com/garden-advice/article/how-to-prune-encore-azaleas for more detailed information.